02/08/2007 1:00AM

Proven 3 lead Davona Dale cast


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Originally, it appeared that Saturday's $150,000 Davona Dale Stakes might provide an early-season treat - a matchup of Eclipse Award winner Dreaming of Anna and trainer Shug McGaughey's promising Grade 2 winner Boca Grande. In the end, however, both fillies passed the one-mile race, which serves as a steppingstone to the meet's most important race for 3-year-old fillies, the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss on March 10.

With Dreaming of Anna running earlier on the card in the Old Hat, and Boca Grande staying in the barn, the Davona Dale became a wide-open event with stakes winners Meditations, Christmas Kid, and Lisa M. taking center stage.

Meditations will make her first start since closing out her short but successful 2-year-old campaign with a smashing 10 3/4-length victory in Calder's 1 1/16-mile Three Ring Stakes last Dec. 2. The performance was a virtual carbon copy of her maiden win on the same track eight weeks earlier.

Trainer Ralph Ziadie decided to back off on Meditations following the Three Ring, after which he said he would point his filly for the Davona Dale. Ziadie shipped Meditations to Gulfstream on Sunday, where she worked five furlongs in a sharp 59.22 seconds under her new rider, Rafael Bejarano.

Christmas Kid has won 2 of her 3 starts since switching to the turf after her career debut last summer at Saratoga. Included in her victories was a game half-length score on New Year's Day in Calder's Tropical Park Oaks.

"She works so well on the dirt, like a graded stakes horse, so we figured why not take a chance and run her in here," said trainer James Jerkens. "She's already won a stakes, and the next turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies isn't graded, so trying her in the Davona Dale made the most sense. If she doesn't do well we can always bring her back in the Herecomesthebride on the grass later in the meet."

Lisa M. finished a troubled third, less than two lengths behind Christmas Kid, in the Tropical Oaks. A stretch-running daughter of Banker's Gold, Lisa M. is the lone graded stakes winner in the field, having rallied from last to capture the Gradeo3 Arlington Lassie last summer in Chicago.

High Again, who has won her last two starts, both at a mile for trainer Bill Mott, could prove the one to catch breaking from the outside under Joe Bravo. High Again contested the pace before drawing away to easy 3 1/2-length victories in both her maiden and first-level allowance conditions.